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Friday After Next (R)
New Line Cinema
Official Site
Director: Marcus Raboy
Producers: Matt Alvarez, Ice Cube
Written by: Ice Cube & DJ Pooh
Cast: Ice Cube, Mike Epps, John Witherspoon, Don Curry, Anna Maria Horsford, Clifton Powell

Rating: out of 5

Uh, well…

I so wanted to go in, sit down, and have some stupid fun, just some low-rent entertainment about the misadventures of a couple of vipers without a lot of plot or character arcs to trouble my mind. Friday After Next has a wafer-thin plot. Craig (Cube) and Day-Day (Epps) get ripped off and tree-whipped on Christmas Eve by the Santa Claus Bandit, who then flits in and out of their miserable day on the job as strip mall rent-a-cops. Their quest: to get their rent money back. That’s it, and despite its simplicity, it was still too much plot. One can detect that some minimal effort was expended to attend to the story line, but most of the scenes are excuses to use gags that Cube et al. probably found screamingly funny while sitting at home, smoking shit. The writers never saw a cheap pun or throwaway joke they didn’t like, which leads to knee-slappers like police officers sporting badges labeled B. Dix and A. Hole. All the more impetus for my Truth In Movie Labeling campaign. If the writers were toasted when they wrote the movie, we should know that, so that we can be similarly altered when watching.

Though the movie has absolutely no character development and is pretty aggressively dumb, these characteristics cannot guarantee enjoyment, and in fact Friday After Next fails to deliver the recommended movie fun quotient. That’s too bad, because Mr. Cube is one exceptionally charming guy, and watching him, you really want him to succeed. His engaging presence helps some, but that leaves a whole slew of characters you’ll want to go upside with a two-by-four, starting with the hyper-annoying Day-Day. Yes, he’s supposed to be a fool, but really now. Then there’s Craig’s daddy, John Witherspoon, whose level of foolery has increased with every screen appearance until it almost rises to the level of, well, unpleasant racial stereotype.

On the plus side, John Murphy’s highly Elfman-influenced score almost puts one in the right madcap mood to appreciate the silliness. And I feel a grudging admiration for the dogged determination with which Cube et al. eked out the necessary running time: When in doubt, whenever the script bogs down, time for another chase! The movie is full of this sort of scripting laziness. Viewers who are just old enough or censorious enough to recognize that gayness isn’t humorous in and of itself will also have to deduct points. Still, the built-in fan base for the Friday franchise may keep it going long enough that we’ll have to start talking about good and bad in terms of evens versus odds, a la the Star Trek movies.

Friday After Next made me long to rent Friday, which was actually funny. I never thought I’d write that a film “needs Chris Tucker” but…

—Roxanne Bogucka


hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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